Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left,
and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before their talks Friday in
London. Afterward, they reported no breakthroughs on finding a solution
to the crisis in Ukraine.
This post has been updated.
Update at 12:45 ET:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry came away from talks Friday in London saying they had not come
any closer to an agreement about how to end the crisis in Ukraine.
told reporters after the two men met that Russia intends to "respect
the choice of the Crimean people" — who will vote Sunday on whether to
join the Russian Federation. That was a sign that Russia may indeed move
to annex the region if Crimeans indicate that's their wish.
emerged from their six hours of discussions to say the U.S. and its
European allies remain convinced that any move by the Crimean region to
split from Ukraine would violate that nation's constitution and
international law. He repeated that "there will be costs" for Russia if
it continues to — in the view of the U.S. — interfere in Ukrainian
The American diplomat has previously said that the
U.S. and its allies will take "serious steps" on Monday if Crimeans vote
to leave Ukraine and Russia accepts that decision. Those steps would
include economic sanctions.
Lavrov's view: Crimeans' "right of self-determination" should be respected.
whether Russia, which has sent some forces into Crimea, might take
military action elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, Lavrov said "the Russian
Federation doesn't have any plans to intervene in eastern Ukraine and
couldn't have such plans."
Asked whether he views those words
as an assurance that Russia would not send troops elsewhere in Ukraine,
Kerry said "all of us would like to see actions, not words, that support
the notion that people are moving in the opposite direction and are in
fact diminishing their presence" militarily.
Kerry also said he
does not know whether or not Russia will move to annex Crimea after
Sunday's vote. To do so, he said, "would be against international law."
stressed that he believes a solution to the crisis can be reached that
both restores and respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine and
addresses "Russia's legitimate concerns." Our original post and an earlier update pick up the story:
Armed men, believed to be Russian troops,
walk outside a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean
city of Simferopol, on Friday.
Vasily Fedosenko /Reuters/Landov
While Crimeans prepare to vote Sunday on whether to join the
Russian Federation, Secretary of State John Kerry is in London for talks
with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
As NPR's Ari Shapiro tells our Newscast Desk, Kerry is looking for a way to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine.
Kerry is expected to warn Lavrov "that the disputed referendum being
held in Crimea in two days and Russia's military intervention there
could trigger concerted U.S. and EU sanctions."
NPR's Michele Kelemen reported Thursday, Kerry says that if Russia
doesn't help resolve the crisis, "there will be a very serious series of
steps Monday in Europe" and the U.S.
Those steps could include
economic sanctions and additional travel restrictions on any officials
believed to have been responsible for Russian intervention in Ukraine. Update at 11:05 a.m. ET. Meeting Begins.
they went behind closed doors at the U.S. ambassador's residence in
London, Kerry and Lavrov spoke to reporters. The State Department .
morning, everybody. [It's] my pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister
Lavrov to Winfield House, the American Embassy residence here in London.
Obviously, we have a lot to talk about. I look forward to the
opportunity to dig into the issues and possibilities that we may be able
to find about how to move forward together to resolve some of the
differences between us. And we look forward, I know, to a good
conversation." Lavrov: (via interpreter)
"Well, I'm also satisfied to have this meeting today. This is a
difficult situation we are in. Many events have happened and a lot of
time has been lost, so now we have to think what can be done. Thank
Our original post picks up the story:
NPR's Gregory Warner reported from Crimea about the scene there in
advance of Sunday's vote. He reports having seen dozens of armored
personnel carriers, fuel supply trucks and military satellite systems
near the region's border with the rest of Ukraine.
notes that Crimeans will be asked to vote on two questions Sunday:
whether to join the Russian Federation; or whether to stay part of
Ukraine but revert to an earlier constitution that gave them even more
autonomy and the chance for dual Ukrainian-Russian citizenship.
, NPR's Peter Kenyon reported about the concerns that Crimea's Tatars have over the pro-Russian sentiment in the region.
Need a refresher on what this crisis is all about?
As we've previously said, Crimea has been the focus of attention as the ripple effects of the protests that led to last month's have spread.
up the history and importance of Crimea to Russia and Ukraine isn't
possible in just a few sentences, of course. The Parallels blog, though,
has published several posts that contain considerable context:
recapped what set off months of protest in Kiev and ultimately led to
Yanukovych's dismissal by his nation's parliament last month this way:
protests were sparked in part by the president's rejection of a pending
trade treaty with the European Union and his embrace of more aid from
Russia. Protesters were also drawn into the streets to demonstrate
against government corruption."
It was after and headed for the Russian border that troops moved to take control of strategic locations in Crimea.